Communicating Bad News

Stress Relief Tool – Communicating Bad News

Communicating bad news doesn't have to be as stressful on you as you may think. This process can help.

We’ve all been in the position of having to communicate bad news to others. It probably started with being a child when you broke something or did something you weren’t supposed to and got caught. As an adult, the stakes are higher: you need to break up with your significant other or you need to lay off an employee. Whatever the situation might have been, it likely skyrocketed your stress prior to and during that conversation.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If you spend time carefully crafting messages that blend the right degree of diplomacy and directness, tailored to those hearing it, the other person will be far better prepared to deal with what comes afterward. Identify your own discomfort with their defensiveness or anger, then write out the message in clear, nonjudgmental language in no more than two to three sentences.

Then deliver the message within the first two minutes of the conversation: no long build-ups, no small talk to delay or warm up. Use the remainder of the conversation to process your message by allowing the recipient to ask questions, vent, or clarify. Be compassionate and make the conversation about their needs.1

Chances are the conversation will go better than you expect, and you will minimize your stress in the process.


  1. Carucci, R. – Stress Leads to Bad Decisions. Here’s How to Avoid Them

Posted by Professor Pete Alexander

A seasoned professional with over 30 years of Sales and Marketing experience, Pete has battled the negative effects of stress head-on and has developed the LIGHTEN™ stress relief model that motivates his peers to take action and overcome their self-imposed barriers to success using clever yet simple tools and techniques.

Leave a Reply